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  • Birthday 11/29/1974

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  1. I'd say it is heavily braked, somewhat rough ride that bores me, and I usually avoid it! Posting here is not "interacting with the media" like the code of conduct states, so I can say whatever I please. We know that some people have to find something to complain about because they are an "expert", and the "speaking enthusiastically" clause discourages people from complaining when they have a camera or microphone stuck in their face. Anyone reading this is a supporter of the industry, and should act like it when they are in the public eye. I'm in ACE and TPR because I have fun with both groups and have friends in both. I ride coasters because it is fun, period. Different clubs have different things to offer, and I'd encourage everyone to form their own opinions based on real experiences rather than what they hear secondhand. Moving on to Sky Rocket.... I was lucky enough to ride it once on Tuesday night and seven times on Wednesday during the commercial/photo shoot. EVERY ride I had was in the back row, but I didn't have any choice as I was assigned a seat. (They were looking for teenagers and couples to show the family friendliness of the ride, and as I didn't fit into either of those categories I was simply a very happy seat filler.) In a nutshell, the ride was just plain FUN. It had some intense parts with lots of airtime, particularly the second drop and hang time through the corkscrews. I liked rolling straight out of the station and into the launch without stopping. The launch is very smooth and feels like other Premier launches in terms of force, but it is much quieter. After shooting straight up, you hang over the first drop moving fairly slowly (thanks to magnetic brakes), so there is not nearly as much "pull" over the top as on the second drop. On the second drop you go over much more quickly. I hit the lap bar with emphasis, one of the strongest airtime moments I can recall. It is gonna scare people. I was definitely hanging during the corkscrews, too. The ending of the ride is not intense, but is quite fun. The whole ride is freakishly quiet and ultra-smooth. I would have liked to try a different row because I found that my shins were pretty tightly squeezed by the restraint when it got near my lap. This was because the base of the seat was in the way, and because I'm 6' 2", my feet aren't small. There just wasn't enough room for my feet. It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't painful either. Other people said other rows were not like this. That's the ONLY issue I had, and I hope they can address it because I really liked the ride in the back row. The upside of the shin issue was that because I'm fairly thin, the lap bar was not really on my lap, and I had some room to fly! The seats themselves were super comfortable and a little bit soft. You sit higher up than in older Premier trains. This is great for taller people and those who have trouble "folding" themselves into rides like Mr Freeze. I think this is a ride that families can and will enjoy, but only after catching their breath after some seriously thrilling moments that should make enthusiasts quite happy. Based on what I saw of the commercial filming, the TV spot should be entertaining. Go ride this ride, you won't regret it! Here I am sitting in the back seat. I want to thank the people from Premier and Kennywood who worked around the clock so that the Coaster Con attendees could get their first ride on Sky Rocket. I am eager to return to Kennywood in the future, and I had a great time at the park. -Mike Ready for my back row ride on Sky Rocket
  2. Thanks for the answers - sound like we basically do the same things. I just got the Topaz suite of plugins, but I will also look up Neat Image (actually I think I already did). Actually, they might..... I also shoot RAW. The styles are applied internally as filters to the RAW files. "Monochrome" directly affects the RAW file - it gets rid of the color information and leaves only luminance - so there is proof that the style affects the RAW file. The same filters are available in Digital Photo Professional (DPP - for those that don't know that's the software that comes with Canon DSLRs). In fact, Canon's site says this: "With JPEG files, Picture Style effects are permanently embedded in camera and cannot be changed; RAW files can have their Picture Style settings determined in-camera or during RAW processing in DPP." So, if you're not using DPP and your style setting is not set to neutral, the camera IS doing something to the RAW files, and you may be seeing the effects of that in Lightroom without knowing it. Not sure. I agree that primes give great results (have a 50mm and 300mm prime now, looking at the 135mm), but there is also the learning curve of learning how to use a real camera, how to pick shots, how to trade off f#, ISO, exposure time, etc. For me, that's half the fun, playing with different shots and settings to get the effect that I want. Sorry for the photo-geek-talk everyone, but it's been nice discussing this with you Steven. I haven't posted too many images lately. Maybe I'll process a few from Holiwood Nights if I get some time. -Mike
  3. Excellent photos, exactly the type of quality that I strive for. I was at CP about a week and a half ago, and crowds weren't too bad so I didn't want to take time out to take photos. With lines as short as you describe, I would have spent all day on rides! What ISO are you using with that 7D? I can see the exposure time and aperture in the metadata, but ISO is not shown. I try to keep it to ISO400 or below with my 5D MkII. Are you using NR in the camera or in Lightroom? I usually shoot with the "Neutral" style, what is your style set to on your camera? Many of the modes accentuate color and sharpness (like "Landscape"), but I prefer to do that later on in post processing. I also noticed that your shots are about 4x the file size of mine. I have tended to compress quite a bit since I have a slow connection, and it shows in my images. Maybe I'll redo some of mine and add a watermark along the way.... -Mike
  4. Nice TR from one of my favorite parks. I only ride in the front row when I want to get soaked from head to toe! Last Friday there weren't enough people to fill a boat (everyone was at Wildebeest), so they told you where to sit in order to "balance" the boat. One boat also had the front seats taped off and I gathered it was because the lap bars wouldn't open. Maybe I'll post a TR if I get time. I'm looking forward to getting some photos of a RED voyage train - see the videos on this page for the park's "Plan B" to get back to two-train operation until the Timberliners are ready: http://www.holidayworld.com/node/3301 -Mike
  5. Very nice TR! Thanks for posting lots of photos, they were fun to look at before my trip to CP next week. If the Shoot the Rapids splashdowns are anything like the Pilgrim's Plunge splashdown, you're gonna get soaked in the front seat when the wave hits you and possibly comes over the front of the boat, and the side of you by the side of the boat will get soaked if you're in the back rows. Your shoes aren't staying dry either. $4.50 for a soda is absolutely ridiculous. I'll drink soda when I go to HW, but not at CP, unless it's in a cooler in my car. -Mike
  6. Nice report! AM is included in admission, which is just plain awesome. I'd say head there early in the day if it appears the park will be crowded. This is an attraction for active people, so many will not even attempt it, like the people in the scooters - I loved that photo, BTW! I was at DW on March 28th, and morning rain had cleared the park. When we arrived it was raining lightly, and the place was empty. It rained lightly on and off the rest of the day. After lots of coaster rides I tried out AM while my friends were eating lunch. There was basically no line, it was raining, and I was wearing raingear and waterproof shoes. I didn't really have any traction problems, and the geyser was not working this day - I didn't even know about it until I read your TR! I wanted to try this course out because I used to be very afraid of heights. I have gotten over that by going to parks, and I wanted to see if it would bug me. I did all three courses with no problems, and had a great time. While on the course, I saw someone get told to put their camera away, so I waited and asked someone to take a photo of me when we got to the bottom (below). It was so much fun I did the whole thing again later with my friends. I highly recommend doing it, even if you have problems with heights. It might help you get over it, and you're perfectly safe. My only complaint is that the metal piece that hooks you into the track makes very loud banging sounds as you pass through the joints between rail sections. With a few people around clanking along, there was enough noise to nearly give me a headache. Two trips through AM and about 30 coaster rides made for a great first visit for me to DW. -Mike Me, soaked after doing Adventure Mountain in the rain, but glad I did it.
  7. ....and this gets my vote for the most intelligent statement of the thread. After many, many rides at HW today, I'm off to the fridge for a beer! -Mike
  8. Excellent point. I did mean to say e-stop. I'm assuming that was triggered, either automatically and/or by a ride op, after the train stopped and didn't make it to the next block. The other wheel assemblies, the linkages holding the cars together, and the engineering of those parts. -Mike
  9. I may be completely wrong, but I believe that the trains do have emergency brakes built in. The only e-stop method is friction - that is, when the wheels literally come off, the friction of the bottom of the metal train car against the metal track will tend to bring it to a stop. Hopefully this happens without parts of the train catching on track cross members, which would result in a more damaging, and possibly violent, stop. I think the park guy is really stretching the meaning of "emergency brakes", or he just didn't know any better. Also, you never know what some people will say when a microphone is shoved in their face or they get a call from a reporter. We should be grateful everyone is OK, but a bit disturbed that a wheel assembly apparently failed in some manner. Has this happened to an Intamin train of this style before? (I haven't heard of it, but then again I'm not nearly as in-the-know as many here.) -Mike
  10. Time for a little SFMM humor - this is hilarious: http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-six-flags-ride-based-on-relationship-with-debo,17223/ -Mike
  11. Robb, Where would this show rank on Mitch Hawker's wood coaster poll? (i.e., which coasters is this show better than?) I can't believe that's Biz Markie. Weird. I remember when he actually had a "hit" song or two. -Mike
  12. Pack of cigarettes? They are light enough to get caught by the wind. No negative Gs on the ride before this to launch an iPhone. I know if I take enough pictures of Diamondback I will eventually catch something getting lost. I already got hit by a cell phone battery on that ride (hit my foot, thankfully). Nice photos and TR. I have been re-editing some of my photos from CP this summer, and it just makes me hate winter all that much more. -Mike
  13. Thanks everyone. Natalie, someday I hope to come up with captions like yours, but I don't have the time, creativity or inside TPR knowledge that you do. I'll just have to let my photos (mostly) speak for themselves. By the way, here are a couple of Holiday World photos: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=824095#824095 I have quite a few other TRs posted over on Negative-G, and there is now a link to ALL of them below in my signature. Please take a look if you have time. Now it's the off-season and I'm in Voyage/Diamondback withdrawal. Sigh. -Mike
  14. Mike's West Coast '09 Photo Trip Report - Links Well, it's done, all 16 park TRs are posted. Hope you enjoy all of the TRs, and please post some feedback if you like the photos. I thought I'd put a list of links at the end, too, so here it is. Click on the park below for a link to that page of my trip report (TR): Day 0: Bus trip, CGA sneak preview Day 1: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Day 2: Gilroy Gardens Day 2: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Day 3: California's Great America Day 3-4: Six Flags Magic Mountain Day 5: Universal Studios Hollywood Day 5: Scandia Day 5: John's Incredible Pizza Day 6: SeaWorld Day 6: Belmont Park Day 7: Legoland Day 7: Castle Park Day 8: Knotts Berry Farm Day 8: Adventure City Day 9-10: Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure
  15. Days 7, 8, 9, and 10 - Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Hard to believe it's November, and this is the last installment of my trip report from August. I'm kind of happy that it's done, but a little sad that it's done too, and the season is over. I closed out the season with a bunch of friends at Six Flags St. Louis on a November day when it was warm enough to wear shorts. Last ride of the year was the excellent Evel Knievel, in the dark. Anyway, on to the last part of my TR..... On the evenings after Knotts and Adventure City, we walked from our hotel over to the Disney complex and enjoyed some not-so-busy weeknight evenings at the parks. This is what the view from the hotel looked like on a typical gloomy morning before the marine layer of clouds had burned off. On Thursday night we headed over to Disneyland for the first time. I had been to Disneyworld when I was very young, but my parents don't like rides and from what I remember we didn't go on anything that went faster than you could walk. To this day I still have never been on a coaster in the state of Florida, and I'm not sure when I will. So, we headed for what would be my first Disney coaster, Space Mountain. Seemed to be a good way to start. After a 40 minute wait the 12 of us managed to line up for one train, six people per car. We, hopped in and moved forward out of the station, and paused as the train in front of us made a right turn and headed into darkness. We were all fairly amped up for what should be a great ride. I was in the front seat with John. I watched the section of track in front of us flip over, switching us to a track that led off into the darkness to the left. We moved forward.... and stopped in what looked like a maintenance bay. What did we do? Are we in trouble? Okay, did one of the people behind me do something really stupid? A ride host appears with an explanation. "Well, it seems that the twelve of you fairly average-sized guys are just too heavy for our train, so we'll have you get off here and we'll split you up." Holy $@#!. We are so FAT that we JUST BROKE SPACE MOUNTAIN!!!! Honestly, none of us was really fat, though. We're just average-sized guys - and no, I'm not talking about the average fat Chicagoan that eats bushels of kielbasa for breakfast - I'm talking easily riding Millennium Force-sized people. For Gods sake, the ride host - er, sorry - cast member in the photo above is much chubbier than any of us were! We were a bit shocked, but a bit proud, I think! We were unloaded with the aid of a stepstool, and of course all of our cameras came out and we started snapping photos. Not being a complete dork, I'll only show a couple. Here the cast member steadies the step stool as two of our party exit. Mikel is proud of breaking the ride as we exit through a rarely-seen backstage passageway and out a door labeled "Cast Members Only". Really it should say "Cast members or groups of twelve average-sized adult males only". So, they put us right at the head of the line, and here is half of our group finally getting their ride. I really enjoyed my first Space Mountain ride, which happenned to be in the front seat. I had no idea what was coming, and the multiple lifts had me fooled. Of course I wish it had more drops, but it was still a fantastic ride in nearly complete darkness. So, the lesson learned here is that if you ever want to break Space Mountain, get eight to twelve average-sized male adults, get on one train, and see what happens. After this we headed straight to the Matterhorn, which had maybe a 20-minute line. It was a great ride in the dark, and a nice way to close out my first evening riding REAL rides at a Disney Park. The next evening, Friday night, I met up with Robbie, Natalie, Neil, and Kim at Quiznos across from the hotel and we headed over before the sun set. We went to DCA first, and rode Soarin, which was much more fun than I expected, having no idea what to expect. We hit he coasters next, the Wild Mouse and California Screamin. I was really looking forward to Tower of Terror, because I enjoy the surprise of experiencing a ride like that for the first time. The theming was great, as was the ride. I just put my hands up and had fun. As it was getting dark we headed over the Disneyland and found massive crowds as we tried to get to Indiana Jones. After walking a little bit I turned around and the rest of my group was gone! Having no clue where I was, I walked a little bit farther and found myself back on International Street, not knowing how I got there. I called Robbie and found out they were in line for Indiana Jones (thanks for waiting for me and looking for me, guys), and I backtracked through the huge crowd and found the entrance, which I had missed the first time by due to darkness and huge masses of people. Thankfully, at Disney it is OK to catch up to your group in line (or so I was told), so I line jumped like a #$%@ing madman and finally made it up to where everyone else was. I am glad I didn't bail, because Indy turned out to be my favorite ride in the park. The theming as you walk into the entrance and enter the underground world is just fantastic, and the holes in the roof open to the sky weren't noticed until the next day. The flickering lights and cricket-chirping sountrack were perfect. I can't remember if we stayed until close, but we made a plan to use our "magic hour" the next morning, so we may have headed back a bit early to get some sleep. I got up about 6am and had breakfast, and then we headed over about 6:45 so we could get in at 7am. We headed straight for Space Mountain, and we were basically the first people on it that morning, with one of the cast members walking in ahead of us. After this we headed for the other side of the Matterhorn (the one I had not ridden the night before), which was a completely different experience in daylight. I had my camera out, and it was difficult to hold it steady because it was heavy, but I managed to get some good shots. This was the first coaster I had ever taken photos on (being a good little enthusiast). I spotted other TPR people just behind us, heading up the mountain as our ride was ending. With the sun still hiding behind the clouds, we headed to Big Thunder Mountain at some point, and this was what I got when I pointed my camera behind me. Here's a photo under sunshine later in the trip. We headed for Splash Mountain, which was a little wetter than I bargained for, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion. At this point some of the group were hungry, and I decided to get a Coke to help fight sleep deprivation. I walked up to the counter to pay for the drink, and the young woman at the cash register noticed my shirt. I had just happened to put on my Voyage t-shirt that morning. I'll give here credit - she recognized the ride, but then she said "You need to get a Disney ride shirt instead of that one." Being tired and somewhat brain-dead, I was rather proud of my response: "You need to get a better roller coaster." Then I picked up my change and walked away! That was ONE of TWO things that pissed me off while at the Disney parks. THESE were the OTHER things that pissed me off! I officially hate strollers and the morons who push them without watching where they are going or who they mow down. Everywhere you looked, there were ridiculous numbers of strollers. I had them cut me off, clip my heels, and nearly trip me. They blocked walkways, and often came in widths of two strollers, side by side, pushed by oblivious idiot moms and Dads who were too distracted by all of the "Disneyness" to notice the ten people they had just mowed down. I also noticed people paddling canoes. Was this an upcharge attraction? Crowds were quite steady on this weekend, and this was one of the less crowded sections of the park! Fortunately not all attractions were "sold out" for the day. As we were walking around on Saturday afternoon we were also on the lookout for scavenger hunt items. After spending a few hours of time looking for obscure items in the crowded park, I broke away to take photos. The hippos on the Jungle Cruise were very realistic, so of course I had to snap some photos. No ACE jokes, please. What pretty fake teeth you have..... The infamous "back side of water" I caught some surprised expressions on Big Thunder. Big Thunder was generally hard to photograph, except for this stretch. This angle produced some good pictures - fun to look at the kids' reactions This train is all smiles I didn't know they packed them in three-wide on this ride. An International Street shot Walt - "Look Mickey, those morons with the stroller just ran over five people. Isn't this just a magical place?" On Saturday night it got crowded, and I recall walking out of the park with Robbie after he got a custom-made set of mouse ears for himself. Though I have never desired a set of mouse ears, it seemed to help Robbie complete some phase of his life, and he was happy. The next morning, our last day of the trip, Mikel and I resolved to ride a lot of rides. We were organized - the Fast Passes and single rider lines were our friends on this day. Here I am on California Screamin - my first ever self-portrait on a ride. Even though I'm pretty thin I still have an extra chin when I look down at the camera! Argh. This is what the loop looks like. Tower of Terror was a lot of fun, and I could take pretty good photos of the on-ride photo display. Here Mikel and I represent 50% of the people who weren't holding on for dear life. Later in the day I put on my 2X attachment and effectively using a 400mm lens, I got some decent photos of people on Tower of Terror from the center of the park! Can you find Mikel in this photo? This is very close to where I took the Tower photo. OH MY GOD THE WIND HURTS MY SUNBURN!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! You know these people are having a great time Terror and tongue! Future Top Thrill Dragster fans? Check out the kid in the second row! My last photo of California Screamin Mikel enjoys a quick ride on the brightly colored carousel To end this TR, I will show a few photos of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which started the modern steel coaster age. A variety of expressions here..... These all are taken right before the splashdown, and people are just getting their first look at the water here, and are wondering if there is supposed to be water, and if they will get wet or not. And finally, the guy in blue wins the "getting ready for the splash expression award". Holy cow, my TR is done. It's both relieving and saddening at the same time. Hope it has jogged many memories for trip participants. Until next season.... -Mike
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